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BWW Review: Stunning and Touching WAR HORSE Plays the Fox Theatre

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Nick Stafford's adaptation of the novel, War Horse, by Michael Morpurgo is an awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping spectacle brought to life by the Handspring Puppet Company. It's a fascinating and heart-wrenching tale that follows a horse named Joey and a boy named Albert, who will go to great lengths, even joining the Army, to try and locate him. The stagecraft employed for this production is remarkable. The combination of a kind of puppetry where the puppeteer is nearly invisible, dramatic projections for backdrops, and a sharp cast and director, add up to a total theatrical experience that's well worthy of your time and attention. The current touring company now playing the Fox Theatre (through March 24, 2013) is definitely up to the task at hand.

Joey is a spirited horse bought by Ted Narracott, who's been known to tip back more than his share of drink, that brings great joy to his son Albert, and something less so to his wife Rose. Although Albert forms a bond with the foal and does fine work in taming the equine, Ted sells the horse, and it ends up in the fighting ranks of the English Army in the European theatre during World War I. An underage Albert enlists in a fight that wasn't known as "the Great War" for nothing, and he and others deal with many tragedies along the way.

Alex Morf does fine work as the determined Albert, and you root for him in his desperate search for the horse he loves, while dealing with various battles and skirmishes. Mat Hostetler deftly assumes the role of cad as his drunken father, and Angela Reed rounds out the family as his mother, Rose. Of course, there's also the exceptional work of Adrian Kohler and Brian Jones as Joey. Brian Keane is Albert's Uncle Arthur, and Michael Wyatt Cox plays his cousin Billy. Brandon Drea plays a fellow soldier in Albert's company, while Andrew May plays an enemy German Captain. Lavita Shaurice is good as a farm girl named Emile who cares for Joey, and Jason Loughlin is solid as a Lieutenant who cares for Joey in the Army before tragedy strikes. Nathan Koci (accordion ) and John Milosich (vocals) impress as opening act narrators/minstrels.

Bijan Sheibani directs with a sure hand, guiding the action with grace, and guiding the actors to achieve maximum dramatic effect. He's aided on many fronts, but especially by the lighting of Karen Spahn, and the superbly synched sound of John Owens. Rae Smith contributes perfect period costumes, while Greg Pliska directs the music created by Adrian Sutton and John Tarns.

War Horse is a phenomenal achievement that demands your attendance. Catch it at the Fox Theatre through March 24, 2013, and it will touch your soul with its story.


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From This Author Chris Gibson